Driving the Demand for Transportation Talent

Here are some effective hiring and retention tactics that hiring managers can adopt in order to secure a competitive advantage in attaining their drivers.

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This past holiday season was busy for many – not just for consumers, but for the businesses and industries providing the required logistics all season long. With online shopping continuing to grow, the need for drivers was critical to ensure the smooth flow of goods from distribution centers all the way to their destination. Although the holiday rush has passed, many companies are now facing a storm of returns on top of running their normal business operations.  

Hiring managers are competing for drivers to keep up with this seasonal demand, yet trucking is an extremely tight labor market. With a limited pool of talent, drivers are finding themselves in a position to work with a carrier for only a few months, only to move to another carrier and get a pay raise. This has caused many fleets to begin increasing pay and offering sign-on bonuses at surging rates, with weekly driver earnings jumping to a rate of more than 5x their historical average. 

In lieu of these major perks, there are other effective hiring and retention tactics that hiring managers can adopt in order to secure a competitive advantage in securing their drivers. 

Offer Flexibility in Workforce Management 

The peak period between Thanksgiving and the close of return windows – typically 90 days – requires a robust and enhanced workforce, along with a dose of flexibility in workforce management. With an agile staffing model and approach, companies can employ an optimized mix of part-time, seasonal and contractors during peak times. Contractor work specifically enables flexible staffing for companies needing to adjust workforce size to meet increased demand. 

Implement HR Technology and Automation 

Hiring strategies need to evolve to adapt to today’s needs, and implementing technology and automation should be a part of that evolution. Utilizing an end-to-end workforce management solution that enables drivers to move from an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to your Driver Qualification Files (DQF) is an efficient and seamless way to improve the speed of your hiring process. A continuous MVR and license monitoring solution can also help reduce turnover rates. With an effective continuous monitoring tool, employers can have early visibility into citations, speeding tickets, or seatbelt citations and act on these factors in real time. 

Background screening is also another important part of the hiring process that can be automated using the right tools, ensuring you are hiring safe and qualified drivers. Due to how heavily regulated the transportation industry is, it’s important to have a background screening provider that has deep market expertise and an understanding of ever-changing regulations so you can stay compliant. 

Develop an Ongoing Driver Safety Program 

Driver safety is top-of-mind for every organization managing a fleet of drivers. But proving that driver safety is important speaks louder than just saying it. Instead of only offering training during orientation or after a violation occurs, develop an ongoing driver training program instead. Frequent training can help drivers improve their skills over time, retain talent and show drivers that you are invested in their safety.

Invest in the Next Generation of Drivers 

Another way to deepen the workforce is to tap into new talent pools. Initiatives such as the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot (SDAP) Program have helped new drivers explore trucking careers and help trucking companies hire and train new drivers through an apprenticeship pilot program. Trucking companies are also developing outreach campaigns to high-schoolers and college graduates to educate them about the trucking industry. Although you may need talent now, developing a long-term talent pipeline will start to bear fruit over time. 

Investing in an adaptable transportation workforce will not only prepare your business for this year’s seasonal demand, but next year’s holiday rush and beyond. By focusing on reducing turnover rates, improving time to hire and embracing technology to meet your hiring demands, companies can drive down complexity and ensure seamless supply chain success. The future of transportation talent hinges on proactive strategies, consistent adaptation and focus on nurturing a skilled and resilient workforce capable of driving the wheels of commerce forward.